L.A. depopulated with no water supply, Dallas in a rain forest, Manhattan submerged beneath the ocean, F-5 tornadoes the norm, climate change killing off humans. Activists today often try to push an ecological agenda with horror stories of what uncontrolled greenhouse gases may inflict upon us. But fear is not a particularly good motivator as Eden Grace notes in her book, On earth as it is in heaven: The Kingdom of God and the yearning of creation and in her corresponding Swarthmore Lecture. People often deal with fear by blocking it out of consciousness or consciously denying it. A better technique is to present the unsensationalized truth together with some practical plan of action.
And that action will not, in and of itself, solve a global problem. But, suggests Eden Grace, by so acting, we become co-participants with God in establishing His Kingdom on Earth. We must trust God to bring that Kingdom into existence: not a territorial state, but a state of being under God’s dominion and sovereignty.
Rather than forcing ourselves to herculean efforts that lead to psychological burn-out, we must let ourselves be gently led by God. Eden Grace recalls that when “cave tubing” in Belize with individual lamps switched off, the darkness was absolute and frightening; but, when she relaxed, fear was replaced by trust.
I allowed the power of the water to overwhelm my feeble attempts
at power and control, and I surrendered my will. In this transcendent
state, I floated downstream. I had no ability to perceive time or
distance or orientation or context, but…(the) current of the river
was utterly trustworthy. There was zero risk that it would carry
me into a dead end. I would, inevitably, emerge into the light. All
that was required of me in that moment was to yield to its current.
Of course, God will call some people to heroic action in establishing His Kingdom. One thinks of Martin Luther King as regards the purely human relations of the Kingdom or Greta Thunberg as regards the human-ecological relations. Although most of us will have a humbler part to play, the combined effect of all our efforts will—we trust—lead to the transformation of our world and the realization of God’s Kingdom even if imperfectly. At least—we may hope—the planet will remain habitable by human beings.
And so, I ask, “What should I personally do in the crusade to control climate change? I’ve already disconnected my Roku when not streaming programs. That’ll save a little bit of energy and lessen ever so slightly the production of greenhouse gases. As soon as I finish typing this essay, I’ll call Reliant Energy to choose a 10% solar power option for my electricity contract. Hey, it’ll only cost me $6.00 more per month.
Of course, I could keep my thermostat set at 78 degrees during summer, but I’m uncomfortable at anything above 74 degrees. I’ll compensate with a 66-degree setting during winter. And I’ll read up on climate change and how we can meet the challenge of a warming planet. One important tool advocated by the Friends Committee on National Legislation is some form of “carbon tax.” Although it seems like a fool’s errand, I’ll write to my conservative congressman in support of such a tax. And I’ll make a modest donation to FCNL. Perhaps in future I’ll do more. Right now, at least I’m in the current headed for the light.
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